Why Bruce Springsteen Is The Greatest Live Performer Of All Time

A dashing – and I’ll stop here, for the sake of decency – 67 years old he might be, but as a live performer, Springsteen just keeps on improving. The rock’n’roll equivalent of a fine, and, um, shockingly handsome bottle of wine, there’s no doubt that this is a man, and a performer, that gets better with age. With every year that goes by, songs are added to his killer arsenal of heartland tragedies and small town triumphs whilst his unparalleled understanding of what a crowd wants, needs and are ready for, is honed even further.

In terms of the live show, it’s all there; from the bawdy banter and classic covers to old school rarities, crowdsurfing, diving into the crowd to chug fans’ beers and surprise acoustic sets hours before the evening’s official stage time. You want requests from the crowd? You got ‘em. In fact Springsteen is pretty much the only artist we can think of who’ll take punters song suggestions when playing gigantic stadiums.


Let’s also not forget that this is a man who – accompanied by the mighty E Street Band, now featuring the talents of the late sax-man Clarence Clemons’ nephew Jake – smashed the four hour gig barrier, with a whopping 33-song set in Helsinki. He’s been joined onstage by an actual Beatle in London’s Hyde Park. He’s teamed up with Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, someone who most major league US rockers would steer well clear of thanks to his outspoken lefty leanings. He’s written an off-the-cuff campaign song for Barack Obama. He’s dragged an uncommonly starstruck Mumford and Sons onstage to holler along to ‘Hungry Heart’ at Pinkpop Festival. He’s delivered a decidedly raunchy, hilarious, insightful, passionate keynote speech at SXSW. Talk about keeping yourself busy.

We have no idea what’s in store for Springsteen in 2017, but it sure as hell better include a bunch more live shows. Here’s why:

1 Opening up his 2012 Hyde Park concert with a stripped back harmonica/piano version of ‘Thunder Road’ was simple, understated, singalong genius


Let’s ignore the trustafarian woollen beanie and instead focus on this miraculous rendition of ‘Jungleland’ from 1975’s legendary Hammersmith Odeon show


During his Glastonbury 2009 rendition of ‘The River’, you can see the steam quite literally rising off the man’s back. That’s passion. And extreme sweatiness. We’ll take both, thanks


Springsteen steals and downs pints when he’s parched! He’s just like you and me!


Rock’n’roll is 72% sex. Springsteen – and his guns – exploit this fact to its full advantage in this 1980s rendition of ‘Fire’. Warning, you may need a bit of a lie-down after watching this